If you've used Natural Family Planning [NFP] or a fertility awareness method for any length of time, you've probably heard this joke:
Q. What do you call people who use NFP?
[Yucka yucka yucka.]
You may have heard that natural methods of family planning have a very high rate of effectiveness at avoiding pregnancy, as high as 99% effective, depending on the rules followed. To achieve this high rate of effectiveness, natural methods of family planning rely on abstinence from sexual intercourse and genital contact without penetration -- yes, contact pregnancies are a thing. So if that's the case, how come "NFP families" tend to be so darn big??!! (Cue family photo here.)
(Yes; they're all ours.)
Let's get real. How come NFP families tend to be so darn big?
1. Taking chances. NFP requires abstinence. As I said before, "To achieve this high rate of effectiveness, natural methods of family planning rely on abstinence from sexual intercourse and genital contact." How many people do you know who are super good at abstinence from say, junk food? White lies? Gossip? And those aren't even particularly good things. Sex is a good thing. Sex with one's spouse is a very good and wonderful, and yes, pleasurable thing. Let's be real...sometimes the idea of maybe-possibly-who-knows? we could have another baby -- and babies are also very good and wonderful -- doesn't seem like such a Bad Idea. So the couple takes a chance...and along comes little Jenny or Timmy. I won't embarrass my kids by naming names, but let's just say I have personal experience with reason #1. If you are serious about not getting pregnant, you cannot, I repeat, CANNOT, take chances.
2. Being inexperienced or "relaxed". If you don't really understand how NFP works... like maybe you learned from the internet for example...you might not really understand how to observe, record, and interpret your signs of fertility. The evil twin sister of this idea is when you really do know how to do all of the above, but you just get kind of in a mindset that things are usually like "x" so you don't really need to do all the things and poof! just like that, something changes and a couple weeks later you're looking down at two pink lines...ask how I know lol. Natural methods are very unforgiving of missed observations and wishful thinking. You gotta do the method consistently to expect it to work.
3. Changing your minds. One of the benefits of natural methods of family planning is even if yesterday you were darn sure you never wanted another baby, you can change your mind the very next day and there's nothing to worry about or wait for. Go ahead and try! Newsflash: families using NFP don't need to announce their pregnancy intentions to anybody, so even if you assume or they told you that they're using NFP to avoid pregnancy, maybe they changed their minds and that is why they're having another baby! Don't assume the method "failed" -- it actually may have been used to achieve a wanted pregnancy! Thank the method for indicating you were fertile so you were able to have a baby that you wanted!
4. Method failure. While rare, it is possible that the couple used the natural method correctly, didn't take chances, and still got pregnant. If you are having sex, or even just "fooling around" without penetration, pregnancy is possible. This is true of any methods (natural or not), as long as the woman's ovaries and the man's testicles are intact. Even patients who have had a tubal ligation or vasectomy become pregnant from time to time. Life sometimes finds a way, even when the "chance" of pregnancy is extremely low! As with any family planning method, natural methods used correctly may fail to prevent pregnancy. If your sexual organs are intact, complete abstinence is the only way to be 100% certain you will not become pregnant.
Share your NFP stories! I would love to hear from you!
It was such a joy to have a dear young mom and her sweet first baby, Emma, in a recent Sign, Say, and Play baby sign language series. Here are the mother's thoughts about St. Croix Birth & Parenting's Baby Signs classes!
Q: What reasons did you have for wanting to learn Baby Signs (R) with your baby?
A: We wanted a way to communicate with Emma before she was able to do so by speaking so we could better respond to her needs and help her to feel empowered and connected.
Q: Do you think Emma enjoyed the classes themselves? If so, how could you tell?
A: Yes! Watching on the iPad for 45 minutes was beyond her so young, but she definitely engaged happily each time, and she really seemed to enjoy playing pretend dressing her Teddy—all smiles and excited sounds!
Q: Did you ever see Emma use Baby Signs in her daily life? If so, what signs did she use?
A: She is not signing yet, but she seems to watch our hands when we do.
Q: Can you think of a time it helped you or other family members to use signs with Emma?
A: We use them as much as we can, especially “all done” and “more,” which I think has really helped us with feeding but also when we have to change activities or redirect her to say we are “all done”! Emma always smiles when we sign “dog”! We definitely think they will help as her capacity to comprehend the signs and then to use them grows!
Q: Is there anything you would say to parents or caregivers about using baby signs with babies?
A: It is fun, functional, and building strong connections between my baby and me and in her brain as she already develops her neural pathways for language before she can ever speak.
Q: Would you recommend SCBP Baby Signs (R) classes?
A: I already have to several moms!
Thanks so much for this wonderful feedback!
While postpartum mood disorders like postpartum depression and postpartum anxiety have become well known, awareness of prenatal mood disorders is not as well known. It can be hard to tell if you are "just" pregnant or if you may be depressed. This graphic can help you tease out the differences. If you suspect you might be depressed, make sure to reach out to your health care provider or a mental health professional and share what you are feeling. It is very important to get proper treatment of mood disorders, whether they come up before or after your baby's birth. There are treatments that are safe for you and baby! You are beautiful; you matter; and your mental health matters!
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